If #24hrDub turns out like The Muppet Show as our next interviewee, actor Megan Riordan, predicts, bags I be Statler or Waldorf.
Nope this is a first for me!
What is the most memorable dramatic experience you have had, and why?
There’s a long list that includes fire alarms going off in the middle of performance, bleeding onstage from a combat injury, ambulances being called for fellow actors having asthma attacks, and stage invasions, but my favourite is the time I fell offstage. It was my first major role, I was 13, and it was an adaptation of the children’s book Bridge to Terabithia. The area designated as ‘Terabithia’–an abandoned island these two kids claimed as their own made-up kingdom–protruded from the stage down into the audience seating area, and was built up in kind of a spiral shape from a bunch of broken-down pallets and crates. I was at the top of the spiral in the last scene before the interval, holding a small dog the other kid had given my character as a Christmas gift. The stage manager had asked me before the performance if I could clear the stage after this scene more quickly than I had been, so he could bring the house lights up for the interval faster. With this in mind, as soon as the lights went to black, I turned to nimbly prance my way down the woodpile, proud of what a good, accommodating actor I was, when suddenly WHAM–one leg was through the middle hole of the spiral, I’d whacked the knee of that leg very badly on something as I fell, I don’t remember where my other leg was (possibly still at the top of the set in some inconceivable and unrepeatable splits), and I had somehow, instinctively, tossed the dog to safety on the way down. In shock, I collected the dog, limped my way offstage, cried a bit (more from embarrassment than actual injury), iced and bandaged the knee, and got back out there for act 2, which actually went brilliantly. After the show, one of the ushers told me that she’d been in the bathroom during the interval when a patron came up to her and said, ‘I saw that poor girl fall offstage. Was the dog OK?’
Whenever I tell this story, at the point of the fall, everyone ALWAYS asks if the dog was OK. The dog was fine. 20 years later, I still have a scar on that knee though.
When did you first know you wanted to be involved in the performing arts?
I actually have no memory of ever making the decision. I think I was always just a bit of a performer, even as a small child–my parents put me in piano and dance lessons before the age of three. They were then somehow shocked when I said I was not going into medicine and wanted to pursue theatre at university.
Who (living or dead) would you most like to work with?
I know the cliche answer is Shakespeare, but the show I’m making at the moment is about the effects of the Romeo and Juliet story on human nature and development, as well as what performing the role of Juliet does to actors, so I’d really love to ask him all my questions about the play directly right about now.
I also recently watched the Elaine Stritch documentary Shoot Me and I think it would have been fascinating and very educational to work if not with her then at least…near her. (I suspect I am not thick-skinned enough and she may have eaten my little vegan marshmallow heart though.)
Tell us a little about your next big project.
I have a lot of things in motion with no real firm dates for performance yet, but one thing I’m very excited about is the broadcast of a TV series I shot last year: Klondike, which will be on TG4 in late summer or autumn. The writing is brilliant, the performances are wonderful, and it looks absolutely gorgeous.
What are you anticipating the most about THE 24 HOUR PLAYS?
Lots of nerves, lots of caffeine, having to pull out all my memorisation tricks, bit of a backstage-at-The-Muppet-Show vibe but ultimately: triumph, good buzz, loads of craic and truckloads of money for DYT.
Sum up your feelings about THE 24 HOUR PLAYS in five words or less!
Nerves nerves nerves nerves fun!
She may not be wrong about that Muppet Show vibe. What do you think?